In defense of the Virginia opossum

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018

It was recently reported that a new and perhaps dangerous species of tick, the East Asian Long Horned tick, was found on an opossum in Polk County.

There now might be an assumption that the opossum is in some way responsible or, guilty by association. Please do not consider the Virginia Opossum a dangerous nuisance.

Now is a good time for some fun and interesting facts about our backyard neighbors.

• Just one opossum eats up to 5,000 ticks in a season, and they do not carry Lyme disease.

• They also eat small rodents, snails, insects and carrion ( dead stuff). This makes them nature’s pest control and cleanup crew.

• They are generally immune to rabies and are not vectors of human disease.

• They are known to be fastidious groomers and keep themselves very clean.

• They play dead when they are frightened. It can last minutes to hours.

So remember, ticks are a nuisance and can be dangerous to all of us, but the presence of an opossum inevitably means less, not more ticks around you!

If you see one, be kind and say thanks!

Belynda Veser, Columbus